The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘signage

tightly nailed

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How do you not read something if you know how to read?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Surrounded as we all are by signage, one often wonders about how, or if, you can tune it all out. If you can read the written word, it’s virtually impossible for the literate brain not to translate graphic messaging as language and process the printed symbols into words and thoughts. Given my notorious affections for the horror genre of literature and film, often has a certain postulate occurred to me – can you transmit a thought virus via the written word as supposed by HP Lovecraft and his dreaded Necronomicon? By thought virus, I’m referring to a “very bad idea” which induces instant madness in the reader – a sort of syllabic poison? As previously and multitudinously stated, I’m all ‘effed up.

“Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nfah Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!” anyone?

Note: Over the years I’ve had a few friends who suffered from various mental illnesses, many of which center around paranoid delusions, and if I noticed them carrying around a tarot deck or some other occult contrivance I would start to worry. Paranoids should avoid any sort of divination and the occult in general, in my opinion, as Gnosticism excaberates their inclination towards visualizing and finding patterns in random events and the usage of a dininatory device tends to confirm the efficacy of their self created beliefs. Such patterns of thought are “very bad ideas” which often lead to fugue states which include inescapable logical traps and racing thoughts, as well as a false perception of enhanced physical abilities – a psychological state which often leads to traumatic medical and pharmaceutical interventions and world weary cops referring to them as an “EDP” or Emotionally Disturbed Person. (I’ve been there for a couple of people’s “enhanced” states and it sucks, they’re having what basically a “brain attack” and there’s naught you can do except stand there and listen while gathering up and hiding sharp implements from around the room.) 

I always wonder – could it have been something I said?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A “very bad idea” that’s transmitted by a bit of public signage, like the sort you’ll see when approaching the Brooklyn Queens Expressway from Northern Blvd. for example, would be a pernicious foeman. The vast numbers who witness it – even from blocks away – would all be transformed into homicidal madmen and madladies. We are surrounded by the written word, and any literate person has no choice but to instantaneously read and process what they see.

Imagine, if you will, a screed whose combination of nouns and verbs is capable of instantaneously inducing madness. You blunder in front of the message during your daily round, and the thought virus imparted by the signage shatters the gentile veil of civilization – reducing you into thundering mania – a homicidal lunatic bent on wreaking random and bloody havoc. What if such a phrase was displayed to an audience of thousands in a sports stadium, or at Grand Central Terminal, or in Times Square at rush hour? What if it was sent out over the amber alert system and every cell phone in NYC carried the thought virus? Would it be translatable to Spanish, or Urdu, or Mandarin? It could reach epidemic status within minutes via modern technologies.

“Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread,” anyone?

This would be, of course, some sort of sorcery – but perhaps our modern world just hasn’t found the correct combination of syllables to shatter society’s strongest chord yet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In such a world, where the “very bad idea” had propagated forth and infected the literate – we’d have to rely on the illiterate to find a solution. Perhaps this is what happened during the dark ages, and the Black Death wasn’t bubonic plague but rather a thought virus that nearly consumed all of Europe – leaving behind an illiterate nobility and peasantry to repopulate the devastated countryside? Can this be what happened to Roman civilization in the 3rd century AD?

Ever Their praises, and abundance to the Black Goat of the Woods. Iä! Shub-Niggurath! Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!

How do you ignore the written word if you can read? 


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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

additional fact

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I can’t help it if I’m “literal minded.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I used be a “comics guy” who wrote and drew the things, there’s a certain presupposition which possesses me to interpret things in an extremely literal fashion. Given that my days and nights are spent here in Western Queens, which is famously the most diverse collection of humanity upon the entire earth, a humble narrator often finds himself in quite a pickle when signage is encountered. Some of the neighbors offer a charming interpretation of the American variant of English, after all.

I was confused by the signage in the shot above, encountered at the border of Woodside and Sunnyside. They sell Tacos, but not pets? Is the meat in the Taco not pet meat? If so, then what about the hot dogs?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Certainty exists that the fellow who crafted the signage above intended to signal that the sidewalk was not open for its intended purpose, but one likes to assume it’s a general warning about the pavement’s proximity. On a technical note, the kerning and tracking of the letterforms adorning the missive could really use some love and attention – lousy typography is another one of my pet peeves.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The chalk screed on the signboard pictured above wasn’t just advertising a Soccer match on Astoria’s Broadway to me, instead it was describing the last 75 years of United States foreign policy. Then again, I am literally minded as offered above, and if you put “USA vs. World” on a sign…

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 28, 2016 at 11:00 am

overtones of

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Another random series of shots, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Greenpoint, a line of empty taxis parked on Provost Street, across the street from the sewer plant.

It’s actually meant to be pronounced as “Provoost” despite being spelled as “Provost.” The Provosts were one of the original five families of Greenpoint, along with the Bennets, Calyers, Praas, and Messeroles. These five Dutch families dominated Greenpoint politically for nearly two centuries, owned most of the land, and only began to recede into history when Neziah Bliss married into the Messerole clan. Bliss laid out the modern street grid, erected the first bridges over Bushwick and Newtown Creeks, and is the father of the modern community.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The IND R train entering into Queens Plaza. Queens Plaza’s IND service opened for business on August 19th in 1933, but back then there was only express service between Manhattan and Queens. It wasn’t until 1955 when the 60th street tunnel opened that the Queens local trains began to travel back and forth into the Shining City. I work on getting this shot every time I’m there, and you have to time it just right to catch an arc flash that the train sets off as it comes to the station tracks grade.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s amazing how many manhole cover types there are, a subject which has been discussed endlessly at this – your Newtown Pentacle. The story of municipal consolidation can be read in the screeds embossed onto these iron discs, and the one pictured above was once the property of the “Bureau of Water and Sewers” which is now part of the NYC DEP and can be observed at the border of Sunnyside and Blissville in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is a “Brooklyn Department of City Works” access cover, which was found back in Greenpoint. DCW is also now a part of the consolidated DEP.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in Queens, on the “carridor” of Northern Blvd., a puzzling bit of signage has emerged on one of the enormous advertising bill boards found on the corner of 38th street. The easterly facing side says “Stay Calm” with a screed reading “-Peter.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The westerly facing side says “Don’t Panic,” and also has the “-Peter” signature. Dictionary definitions are superimposed on the block print messaging, this one bears the definition of courage. I’ve looked around for what these signs are meant to be selling or saying, but haven’t been able to find out much. If anybody knows what’s up with these messages, please share in the comments.

Either way, they are reminiscent of the sort of things Rowdy Roddy Piper observed in the John Carpenter film “They Live.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A gorgeous bit of hand painted signage adorns the back of a NYCHA emergency truck back in Greenpoint, and is pictured above.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 10, 2016 at 11:00 am

untold agony

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Hoary Greenpoint, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last weekend, the light was spectacular over in Greenpoint, and since I seldom find myself there in the early part of the afternoon – advantage was taken. Manhattan Avenue’s tenements and apartment buildings are framed by Saint Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in the shot above. St. Anthony’s hosts both a rectory and a convent. The Church is built in the high victorian gothic style, with a 240 foot high steeple, and it laid its cornerstone back in 1873.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Linoleum signage on Manhattan Avenue, for the J. Josephs Sons Co. – a former appliance store. This is vestigial, and part of the character of the street which will shortly be cleansed by the bland homogeneity offered by the Real Estate Industrial Complex’s desire to eradicate all character from the streets of New York City in the name of lining the sidewalks with glass boxes. I cannot imagine what future generations will think.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on North Henry Street, a seldom seen point of view on the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment plant. This is a quite industrial spot, with a biofuel company and a recycling operation found along the bulkheads of the Newtown Creek. It’s also the “back door” to the sewer plant, where the contractors come and go.

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Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

shining mists

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Signs and portents, in today’s post

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As promised, while you were gazing at the photo of that cute kitten I posted yesterday, a minor scuttle of the immediate environs was enacted. Where I’m going on my walks around Queens is seldom guided by a conscious decision, other than avoiding all possible contact or interaction with the human infestation, instead it’s more of a wandering sort of thing. Yesterday, I was looking specifically for the little things. For instance the Mexican Deli’s sidewalk signage offering a matrix of name translations between Spanish and English for various comestibles.

I always wondered how to say “Green Beas” in Spanish, now I know it’s “ejotes.” I think that “ejotes” must be a fun word to pronounce.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lost Kittens, that’s what the headline on this lamp post flyer says.

Can there be a headline which is sadder in tone than “Lost Kittens?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There seems to be a lot of this sort of thing around the neighborhoods. Everywhere I go, even down at Newtown Creek, these sort of lost pet flyers are found. “Lost Kittens,” jeez.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the same lamp post, another faded ad, this one searching for a little black dog.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few blocks south, on Broadway -somebody had posted queries about the status of a lost, child sized, winter boot.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 11, 2015 at 1:00 pm

not so small

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Enough is enough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One’s path led to Blissville recently, as it often does. Perambulating down Greenpoint Avenue in the direction of the Long Island Expressway on a singularly lovely afternoon. the abundances of illegally placed advertising signs adorning lamp post and utility poles finally forced me to start taking notice of and commenting on it. This is flat out illegal, and DSNY (Sanitation) is responsible for the prosecution and policing of such matters. If this was a graffiti tagged sticker on a Manhattan phone booth, they would have long ago ended the perpetrator, but this is Queens… so you know… go fuck yourself. That’s our Borough Motto, you know – “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.”

Cash for any car indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Cash for Any Cars signs are everywhere. I’ve torn down a few dozen personally, mainly on the block where HQ is located. Luckily, I spotted this secondary advertisement for a company that actually prints the god damned things on a utility pole. One has no evidence to back this up, but the proximity and arrangement of the Cash for Any Car sign alongside the Caristo Printing one suggests to me that they were likely placed together and in conjunction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you are as sick of seeing “signs just like this one” as I am, mayhap you’d want to contact Caristo Printing and let them know how you feel about their illegal advertising on the streets of Queens and or their complicity in the “Cash for Any Cars” signs. If you’re truly beside yourself about these abrogations of the public space, perhaps you’d like to complain about them to your elected officials and the various powers and potentates of the City of Greater New York. If you are an elected official or a regulatory officer, perhaps you’d like to address a letter or two to this printing company about “signs just like this one.”

Alternatively, there’s always “welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself”.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

old but empty

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Signs and portents, portents and signage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The problem with literacy is that one is constantly bombarded with instructions, warnings, and messaging whilst moving about the megalopolis, the visual field carries an unavoidable flood of missives adjuring one to follow posted directives. Reading, for one such as myself at least, is an instant and unavoidable pathway directly into the brain. In a city like New York, everyone from the municipality to the neighbors enjoy leaving little notes around the place which are designed to alert, adjure, or advise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Visual clutter has and will always be a part of urban life, the Romans probably had little chunks of carved rock hanging about reminding citizens to visit the Appian Way or to pick up after their slaves. There’s probably a cuneiform tablet in the British Museum which was designed to warn the citizens of Ur not to litter or face a fine, or a polychrome sketch adorning a cave wall in France that advises its audience to avoid the sticky situations around tar pits.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having worked in the advertising industry for many years, your humble narrator is guilty of having helped to propagate this clutter, which is just part of the long list of things which I feel guilty about. The things I’d like to see on signs these days- missives such as “politicians are your employees,” or “don’t try to argue with cops on the street,” don’t seem to make it past the cutting room floor, of course.

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Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Kill Van Kull– Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Modern Corridor- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

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